Pope joins fest under shadow of church attack
POPE Francis arrived in Poland yesterday for an international Catholic youth festival with a mission to encourage openness to migrants made tougher by a jihadist murder of a priest in France.
The Argentine pontiff is meeting youngsters from the world over at a week-long faith extravaganza dubbed “the Catholic Woodstock”, but is expected to tackle the right-wing government over refugee rights before he gets down to prayer.
The killing of an elderly priest during mass in France on July 26, in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group, cast a shadow over festivities among the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims gathered here.
It has also made Pope Francis’ task of championing migrants that bit harder, playing into the line held by Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo and her right-wing government, who have refused to take in refugees for security reasons.
The pope, 79, will meet Polish President Andrzej Duda in Wawel Castle here.
The pope, who voiced his “pain and horror” at the “barbaric killing” of the priest, is likely to slam religious violence and the persecution of Christians while warning Europe not to fall prey to xenophobia.
Poland is deploying over 40,000 security personnel for the visit. –
Pilgrims from all over the world dance and sing on the Blonia Meadows in Krakow on July 26 to celebrate the opening mass on the first day of an international Catholic youth festival.